The latest transfer yarns being spun by the gossip peddlers have Napoli attacking-midfielder Marek Hamsik on his way to attacking-midfielder haven Arsenal.
According to correspondents at Metro, the Gunners are eyeing a good, old ‘double swoop’ for the Slovakian and Roma striker Mattia Destro, but only if Lukas Podolski and Joel Campbell can be offloaded.
With Olivier Giroud and Danny Welbeck in addition to the aforementioned ancillary duo leading the line, there’s no need for striking reinforcements at the Emirates, but bolstering the midfield should be a January prerequisite for Arsene Wenger.
However, another addition who specialises in the art of goal-creating, not preventing, is exactly what the penny-watching Frenchman needs to avoid at all costs.
A lynchpin of Rafa Benitez’s Napoli side, Hamsik would certainly cost a fair wedge and there is no obvious place for him the ram-packed advanced berths of the Arsenal midfield.
As has been lamented to the point of tear-inducing monotony, an area where they do need to recruit is in holding midfield.
Wenger’s fondness of lightweight, possession retention expert Mikel Arteta suggests that a brute is not what he seeks; any arrivals in this department must be technically skilled, even if that is at the expense of key attributes for the position, like aggression and tackling.
Such players are both very rare and extremely costly, but there’s one Premier League player in this mould who is attainable and the mention of his name doesn’t bring the Arsenal accountants out in cold sweats either – QPR’s Joey Barton.
The former Manchester City man is demonstrating his capabilities in this role at Loftus Road, while stats like a key pass average of 2.2 per outing suggests he is of sufficient technical proficiency to feature in the north Londoners midfield.
A mean of 3.1 tackles and three clearances per outing bests the numbers of 2.3 and 0.3 Arteta has churned out this term, while his leadership qualities, in particular, would benefit a team frequently lacking commanding figures in big games, such as at Liverpool last season, where they were beaten 5-1.
Arsenal travel to Anfield seeking revenge next, priced up at 6/4 to exact it.